Czech Republic marks 15 years of NATO membership

The Czech Republic on Wednesday marked the 15th anniversary of its membership of NATO. Addressing a conference at Prague Castle, President Miloš Zeman criticized the country's low defence spending, and said the ongoing crisis in Ukraine should speed up the establishment of a joint EU defence force. A special guest at the Prague conference is former NATO Secretary General George Robertson, who led the security alliance during the Czech Republic’s first years as a member. Czech Minister of Defence Martin Stropnický wrote on Wednesday that NATO membership was the main Czech goal after the collapse of communism and was a significant and symbolic sign that the country had been accepted as part of the West. The Czech Republic joined alongside Poland and Hungary at a ceremony in Independence, Missouri.